MY COMPUTER – Today there is new email, rather than the usual dunning notices from MassiveCharge, the IRS and/or my payday loan shark. This is from Capitol One: “During our usual security enhancement protocol we observed multiple login attempt error while login in to your online banking account we have believed that someone other than you is trying to access your account for security reasons, we have temporarily suspend your account and your access to online banking and will be restricted if you fail to update.”
Huh? “Multiple login attempt error”? “We have temporarily suspend”? Also, this message has a serious lack of periods. Being smarter than most people, I spot that this is obviously a scam. Also, it occurred to me that I don’t have an account at Capitol One and never have. Here’s another email. “Naval Credit Union. Dear Customer, You Have One Unread Message In Your Online Banking Account. View your message.” I was never a member of the Naval Credit Union, whatever that is. Are the Marines close enough? Never used USAA either, but I need to update.
At the beginning of the Internet, you and I would receive all sorts of email attempts to get our money, mostly through credit card and bank account numbers and the ever faithful Nigerian Prince Ogo. Remember him? “I have $20 milyon US in bank London. Need avoid taxes. You help, we share.” This and most other scams are based on the oldest way to part a fool from his money: greed. The pitch in whatever form is that you and your email partner are going to put one over on a London bank, the IRS or that crooked cousin, because you are smarter than most people. “To show sinserity in this endeevor, wire $5000 US to etc.”
Then months went by without me receiving an offer to share in millions stuck in a forgotten stock portfolio, securities tied up in a lawsuit or silver bars hidden in a sand dune. Now I am starting to get them again. Maybe you are, too. What’s this? “Our record shows your account was accessed from unknown location.” I am told to fill out a form or my account will be suspended. Why not ask for my credit card and Social Security numbers along with my home address, when I will be out of the house and do I have pit bull watchdog?
These con artists are getting cannier. From Comcast: “This e-mail has been sent to you by comcast.net (a “to” should be here, but isn’t) inform you that we were unable to verify your account details. Due to this, to ensure that your email service is not interrupted etc. etc.” Sneaky, but I do use Comcast, so how do I know if this is a scam? Easy. I was not put on Hold.
Have you ever used Amazon? Millions have, including me. “We have noticed irregular activity on your Amazon.com account. Due to this, you need to verify your account for security reasons.” I am supposed to update my account information in order to be re-activated. Click here. I didn’t and am still a customer in good standing. After having difficulty with my iPad, I was told to change my password. When I didn’t, I received a reply – in Russian. Honest.
Another email: Mr. Frank Carradine, an inspection official at Los Angeles International Airport, came across an unclaimed package “left by a diplomat from United Kingdom who was supposed to deliver these packages to you but failed to provide necessary clearances.” A scan revealed the package contained a metal box holding an undisclosed sum of money, probably between $5.5 million to $6 million. I know that I don’t have a few million bucks coming to me from a Brit diplomat, and so does this Mr. Frank Carradine, but I am going to play along and keep the money. First, however I must send a check etc. Again, calling on my greed, which is easy to do. “My Wife Violet and I are donating 2Million Dollars to you. Contact us via my wife email.”
Two points arise: Where did all these people get my name and email address? Is there a sucker’s list bouncing around the Internet? Maybe they took it from my application form to be Dick Chaney’s food taster, or my check to a bankrupt Christian Science bookstore, Borders Without Doctors. A second point: These scams must work to a certain degree or the perpetrators would stop wasting their time and efforts. Wouldn’t you love to see the incoming emails generated by Mr. Frank Carradine, the Naval Credit Union, et. al?
And still they come: “A member of our team reached out to you earlier yesterday with a request for more information about your account.” I need to update. A plea from Wells Fargo, same thing. And this: “As part of our security measures, we have disabled your Chase Online Banking temporarily. To unlock your account, click here.” Actually, I did have dealings with Chase, but don’t go there anymore since my ski mask fell off.
A new, and highly inventive, con has appeared. The phone rings in the middle of the night. A very scratchy voice says, “Uncle (your actual name), this is (mumble mumble). I’m in Paris and was mugged. They took my money, credit cards and passport. I can’t get home and I can’t reach my parents. Would you please wire twenty-fire hundred dollars to Western Union box 1234 in Paris? I’ll pay you back when I get home. God bless you.” Now what semi-literate knuckle-dragger would go for that bunch of bull? A friend of mine, that’s who. He has a doctorate in physics from Rice.
You and I never fall for these obvious scams, especially the old Prince Ogo from Nigeria offer, although I am expecting a big payback from Secret Spanish Bullion, Inc. since they’ve already cashed my check. I’m smarter than most people.
Ashby is conned at email@example.com